Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Machado will switch positions Saturday during the team’s FanFest.
“There could be some adjustments if we don’t like the feel of it, but that’s where we’re going to head into it,” Showalter said.
Tim Beckham, who has primarily played shortstop throughout his career, will swap positions with Machado and play third base, according to Showalter.
“I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would,” Showalter said. “Tim’s big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it.”
The 25-year-old Machado broke into professional baseball at shortstop as the third overall pick in the June 2010 first-year player draft. The three-time All-Star moved to third base as a rookie in 2013 in deference to veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy, and he has won two Gold Gloves at the position.
Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.
“All indications are, he’s really excited about this,” Showalter said. “I can’t imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he’s been very professional about it. But it’s not like he’s changing positions. He’s going back to the position he’s equipped to play.”
Machado finished in a tie for ninth among MLB third basemen in 2017 with six defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions.
He avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.
Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.
“That’s a big decision for the organization, obviously,” Duquette said. “But we’re planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub.”
Showalter said last month that he had talked to Machado about a possible return to shortstop. Machado, who was the subject of widespread trade speculation earlier this offseason, had expressed a desire to play shortstop since joining the Orioles organization.
The manager acknowledged Saturday that Beckham, 28, also would prefer to play shortstop.
Beckham, 28, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He enjoyed a breakout 2017 season with a career-high 22 home runs. After a July 31 trade with Tampa Bay, Beckham thrived in 50 games last season with Baltimore, batting .306 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs.
Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend Saturday’s FanFest.
Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He’s also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.
“Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub,” Duquette said. “We’re going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching.”
If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.
“I’m hoping I get a shot to close. I’d be lying if I say I didn’t,” said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.
Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.
“I think I did all right,” Brach said. “Hopefully, I get another chance to do it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.